Dressed-up:A chandelier dripping with crystals, a prominent arched window, and an ornate etagere.
Laid-back:Relaxed gingham slipcovers, a trio of humble baskets, and a piano bench turned coffee table. This beachfront retreat offers the best of both worlds, the ease of casual living melded with the elegance of tradition. The cottage's palette of muted, watery blues and chalky whites unifies the diverse mix of scavenged furniture and accessories.
Seemingly random accessories look refined when carefully selected and unified by color. The bowl, lamp, and bust share classic roots, while the shells and straw hat lighten the mood. A coat of distressed white paint inspires a new purpose for an abandoned drop-leaf table.
This coffee table began life as a dark-stained piano bench. With a top that flips open to store magazines and such, it's a smart rethinking of an old standard. An old minnow bucket continues the recycling theme and makes a great container for flowers.
A salvaged Eastlake-style door pediment is reborn as an oversize focal point in the small-scale living room. The large mirror amplifies sunlight and visually expands the space. A wrought iron table takes on a whole new personality when lightened by white paint.
A simple stairway with a home center balustrade is reinvented with a timeworn newel and risers painted the same ocean blue as the walls. A collection of conch shells climbs the stairs and the chalkboard reveals their origin.
A vignette in the foyer telegraphs the cottage's theme with vintage sailor hats and nostalgic beach postcards. The hall tree illustrates a decorating technique that appears throughout the home, inexpensive old furniture that commingles perfectly after a unifying coat of white paint.
A coat of white paint pulled together the reproduction dining table, old chairs, and hutch. The iron chandelier was a tag sale bargain because its bright gold finish was a turnoff. It was painted creamy white, embellished with beads, and enhanced with a basket of shells that was wired to the fixture's arms.
The dark Victorian-style headboard was lightened with a coat of white paint and toile fabric inserts. The lines of the wicker table echo the headboard's scrolls, but the table looks a little wimpy in comparison. A salvaged iron grate evens the score, lending the table the visual heft it needs to hold its own against the towering bed.
A mantel laden with shells and shell-ensconced frames extends the elegant beach-bum attitude to the guest room, where the assemblage serves as a dramatic headboard. The generous mirrors exploit the morning sun and give the illusion of a larger room.
Traditional coastal elements such as wire fishing baskets, fishing poles, clam-digging buckets, and other utilitarian items in the white-washed mudroom give the cottage a sense of place and keep useful items close at hand. The inexpensive vinyl floor looks terrific and is durable and a snap to clean.
Nautical items set the mood in the beachside cottage, and shells can be found perched nearly everywhere -- alone or in vases, bowls, and urns. When decorating around a theme, there's a thin line between "Too cute!" and "Too much!" Here, overkill is avoided by clustering accessories in well-composed vignettes rather than scattering them randomly, and by choosing items with soft colors that recede into the background.
The best thing about a cottage on the beach is the ocean view, and this vacation getaway makes the most of the nearby surf with a large deck that offers plenty of entertaining space. The inviting wicker furniture displays the same muted palette and vintage appeal as the interior furnishings.
Can you think of a better place for lunch? The humble fare, flowers, and ticking tablecloth are perfect for barefoot dining. The simple bench and folding chairs have weathered a few storms; their authenticity adds to the casual mood and lets the ocean take center stage.